Do we see restitution in the Bible? What does the Bible say about restitution? Let’s examine these questions together, along with five reasons why restitution is important.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve written some posts about being backslidden. If you’d like to take a look, you can find them here:
Maybe you’re not currently backslidden, but the time to nail down some important truths about backsliding is when you’re not in the middle of a backslide.
One of the unfortunate consequences of backsliding, or of any sin we commit at any given time, is the harm we inflict on others. That’s why the concept of restitution is so important.
The definition of restitution is restoring something to the one who has lost it, helping them recover from damage we have inflicted. It’s not a new concept, so let’s take a look at the concept of restitution in the Bible.
(You might want to grab your Bible or pull up the Bible app on your phone to follow along.)
Restitution in the Bible
We first see restitution in the Old Testament. You might be familiar with the saying “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.” That concept is discussed in Exodus 21-22, and we also see it fleshed out in Leviticus 6:1-7 and Numbers 5:6-7.
Since these Scriptures are part of the old covenant, are Christians still bound by them today?
Zacchaeus is a great New Testament example of one who practiced restitution. I encourage you to read Luke 19:1-10 to discover how he handled restitution, and what Jesus said in response.
From this passage, we see a couple of important truths about restitution:
- Restitution follows an encounter with Jesus (verse 5). It’s not a means of earning God’s forgiveness, but an evidence of forgiveness that has already occurred.
- Restitution flows from joy in Jesus (verses 6 and 8). It’s an exuberant overflow of gratitude for God’s forgiveness, offered freely and not begrudgingly.
Keeping these principles in mind, let’s examine five reasons why it’s a good practice to make restitution when our sin has affected someone else.
5 Reasons Restitution is Important
1.)Restitution is a sign of genuine repentance. Zacchaeus’ example and Jesus’ response is proof of that (see Luke 19:1-10, and also 2 Corinthians 7:10-11).
2.)Restitution restores peace. God tells us to be at peace with everyone to the extent that it depends on us (Romans 12:18). That’s hard to do when sin is contaminating a relationship. Making restitution can go a long way toward restoring peace and unity.
3.)Restitution is an application of the second Great Commandment. When you’re wronged in some way, don’t you want the offending party to make it right? Love your neighbor as yourself, and do to them as you want them to do to you (Matthew 22:37-39; Luke 6:31).
4.)Restitution helps to ensure you won’t repeat the sin. Proverbs tells us that a fool is prone to repeating his folly in the same way a dog returns to its vomit (Proverbs 26:11). We’re wise to see restitution as an opportunity to discipline ourselves, allowing it to teach us to avoid the same sin in the future.
5.)Restitution helps you move on. While the concept of “forgiving yourself” is a common one, it isn’t biblical. So what do we do about the shame that tends to linger? Sometimes what we’re actually sensing is conviction from God that we need to make restitution.
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